Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Armageddon cults and the Israel lobby

I enjoyed watching Bill Moyers on PBS last night probing the role of so-called Christian Zionism in the Israel lobby. The show included a thoughtful interview with Tikkun editor Rabbi Michael Lerner, a liberal who denounces the Israel lobby as a pernicious influence, and Dr. Timothy P. Weber, an evangelical skeptical of the Armageddon cults.

Now, in a sense, I am a Christian Zionist and a dispensationalist, but that doesn't mean I claim a railroad-timetable comprehension of the mysteries of biblical prophecy. (For more on my point of view, see my piece Where is Zion? found at

Curiously, the most extreme of these "End Times" cults, led by Pastor John Hagee who favors an attack on Iran as doing a favor to the state of Israel, is endorsed as a good friend by the Israel lobby and politicians such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. John McCain.

Yet, most Americans are not strict literalists concerning the Bible and most Americans who consider themselves born-again Christians are not closely aligned with these cults. Moyers and his guests were wondering why these cults have such influence and seem to penetrate the consciousness of so many people.

I think they overlooked the most obvious reason: These cults seem to have inordinate access to television broadcasts. There is big money in televangelism and those preachers who take the "Israel is always right" line may well find that their path is made easier. Worth checking, I'd say.

Lerner argued that these extremist religious views, which are in harness with Israeli's hard right, are bad for America, bad for Israel and bad for the Jews.

My estimate is that the American people have little inkling of the extent to which a very tiny group of Armageddon cultists is tilting policy in favor of the Israel lobby.

Granted extremist Islam is an evil force. But extremist solutions are likely to make matters worse, as we see now in Iraq.

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